New Vision (Kampala)

22 February 2013

Uganda: Kimera's Ideas Have Improved Standards of Living in Kyabakuza

After Asumpta Kiggundu lost her husband, all the family belongings were taken by her in-laws leaving nothing for her to survive on with her children.

This left her children without any hope for education. All that was left was a small piece of land that they lived on. When she was about to give up, Hawa Kimera approached her suggesting that she joins Sooka Webuuze Women's Group that she had formed.

The group was started with the aim of organising and teaching women to start income-generating projects to uplift their households from poverty.

As a member of the group, Kiggundu says she has learnt the benefits of team work. Her life has improved and she can now afford to pay school fees for her children. She has also bought land where she built a sty, started a piggery and has also bought a sewing machine.

Birth of Sooka Webuuze

Born in Kyabakuza, Masaka in 1964, Kimera never went far with her education because her parents were poor and they did not know the importance of education.

As a result, she married at an early age. She started working in Kyabakuza Market, where she was chosen to lead women. As a leader, she suggested that they start different development projects.

Since she had a poultry project at her home, Kimera suggested they start with it, an idea that the other members embraced. "At that time, we did not have space, so I offered my home.

The members contributed money and we bought chicks," Kimera narrates. The project started with 500 chicks and gradually expanded. They would sell the chicken and share the proceeds.

As the poultry project progressed, the women decided to diversify. They used part of the proceeds to buy saucepans, plates and other utensils which they would then hire out to people organising functions.

They decided to spread the projects to different homes. The members contributed more money and bought chicks for one member at a time.

This system looked more promising and within a short time, all the 40 members had poultry project in their homes.

They used the poultry proceeds to buy a cow and two goats for each member at a time. "I discovered that women were hard working and could use little resources to develop, given a chance, time and information," Kimera says.

She adds that: "Many of the members are sustaining their families although they have husbands." "The little money I earned from the market was not enough to support the family.

My husband had no job and, amidst abject poverty, quarrels and discontent, my marriage was on the verge of collapse.

Since I joined Sooka Webuuze Group, things have changed and my family is the happiest. "I now have 1,400 birds on my farm, seven goats, a cow and six acres of coffee plantation that I am yet to harvest.

I pay school fees for my children as well as provide the basic necessities in the home," Madinah Namuli, a member, explains.

She adds that she is planning to start another business to generate more income. As the group started getting money, Kimera suggested that they start a SACCO.

At first, the members were hesitant as they feared they would lose their money in new projects, but Kimera explained to them the importance of diversification and convinced them.

The members started saving sh10,000 each after every three days. As the savings grew, they opened a joint account in the bank.

The group then started a loan scheme where members were given a chance to borrow money to expand their projects on agreement that they pay back with a 10% interest.

Members currently borrow money to start a business, farming and pay school fees for their children and they are reaping the benefits. The group has since grown to 120, among them 20 children whose parents bought for them shares in the SACCO.

Members are allowed to buy shares for their families and they get dividends every end of year depending on the number of shares one owns.

The group's motto is Dirtying one's Hand is opening the road to riches and success. The members also introduced vegetable and fruit growing.

They rent land where they plant cabbages and onions, which they sell and share the proceeds. One of the members, Isaha Nansamba, says the group is successful because members believe in themselves and their leader.

"Many of us have benefited from the group so we make sure we work together. We are lucky to have Kimera because she has great developmental ideas and all the members are what they are because of her brilliant ideas.

I have bought sewing machines and started a poultry and livestock farm at my home, I also help my husband by paying school fees for our children and I know our group will make all of us rich," Nansamba says.

Plans

As the group grows Kimera says they want to buy land where they will have a joint farm. They also plan to get a permanent place where they can sell their produce, especially milk, eggs and the chicken.

Challenge

Being in the village, they are faced with the problem of poor quality breeds of birds and animals which may result in losses.

They also do not have sufficient market for their produce because of impassable roads.

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